In September, Alexis Sanchez could have been backed at odds as long as 33/1 to claim the PFA Player of the Year award next April. Now the Arsenal ace is a firm frontrunner at 9/2 and looks set for a dogfight with his Chelsea counterpart, Eden Hazard. Can the Chilean maintain this devastating form and claim his first ever Player of the Year award?
Sanchez is one of the stand-out stars in the Premier League and, no matter what Alan Shearer says he is most certainly world-class. For all his eye-catching skill and ability, though, the Chilean has surprisingly never been named Player of the Year. During his time in Spain this was perhaps not too surprising, as he was up against the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. In England, however, he is clearly one of the leading players, and in his third season in the top flight he may finally get the recognition he deserves.
After 14 games in the league campaign, Sanchez had already scored 11 goals and made 5 assists, putting him well on track to beating his debut season record of 16 goals and 8 assists. The 27-year-old has scored against 6 different teams including Chelsea, but unfortunately for the Gunners’ title challenge he failed to make an impact against Manchester United in the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford. If there is one criticism of Sanchez it is that he often fails to step up against the bigger teams. Arsenal vs. Manchester United tickets for the Emirates clash in May are sure to sell like hotcakes as fans pray that their star man can see off the potential title rivals in the reverse fixture.
Prior to the injury that has ruled him out until January, Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho was one of Sanchez’s main rivals for the PFA award. The Brazilian has slipped out of the running now as he may miss too many matches to be regarded as a contender. Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City started the season as one of the favourites as well, but due to Pep Guardiola’s penchant for rotation, the Belgian is also struggling to put in a solid run of league form.
Hazard has been one of the most dangerous players in the top division this term (see video above), and as it stands it could come down to the two players from the London clubs battling it out for the accolade. Comparing the key stats between the two superstars, it looks as though Hazard currently has the edge in terms of general involvement, but Sanchez is leading the way with his superior goal threat. The Chilean has contributed to 46.9% of Arsenal’s goals, while the Belgian has been involved with 30% of Chelsea’s. Sanchez also has a goal conversion rate of 25.6% to Hazard’s 20.5%. The PFA award isn’t necessarily about goals and assists, but racking up a huge tally will certainly help. As it stands Sanchez looks set to massively outscore Hazard.
Sanchez is well and truly settled in the Premier League now, and is absolutely vital to Arsenal’s title chances. As such, the London club are getting prepared to offer the forward a much-improved contract in the region of £200,000-a-week. The former Barcelona man could also be set to receive the top recognition from his peers in terms of the PFA Player of the Year award.